Voyager-class Autobot Optimus Prime (Earth Mode)
Review by EVA_Unit_4A
After a surprising engagement with the leader of the Decepticons thousands of stellar cycles after the end of the Great War, the crash landing of his small Space Bridge maintenance ship on an unknown planet, and the startling discovery the legendary & powerful All Spark, Optimus Prime is finally living out a dream that had been quashed hundreds of years ago- the chance to be a hero. But now, a lot of responsibility has been placed on the shoulders of this young Elite Guard washout, and he must summon the strength & integrity to bring his small band of miss-matched Autobots together as a team to protect the All Spark until their great leader Ultra Magnus can send reinforcements to recover it. But first, they must determine what kind of planet they have crashed on. With biological life infesting this planet, there exists a level of technology through which they can blend in. Taking the form of a “fire engine”, Optimus Prime leads his crew into Detroit, Michigan, where they come across a young human female named Sari Sumdac. Though wanting to preserve their anonymity while on this Earth, this is soon defeated when they are forced to reveal themselves to the world, and they become instant celebrities... and heroes. Dealing with primitive humans, Sari and Bumblebee getting into mischief all the time, Bulkhead breaking things left-and-right (as usual), Prowl following his own solitary agenda, Ratchet grumbling about how things were different during the war, the most valuable artifact in the universe in his cargo hold, and a bunch of Decepticons hunting them - how is a bot supposed to deal with all this!? The only way Optimus Prime can: with perseverance, wisdom, courage, honor, responsibility, and dedication. Optimus Prime’s vehicle mode (back) is that of a futuristic 4-wheel fire engine, with a water cannon on the back. Now, the most-obvious deviation for the toy from his counterpart in “Transformers Animated” is that his vehicle mode does not include the trailer/back half. On the other hand, the trailer is never seen on-screen in the series except in vehicle mode, so what happens to it when he transforms is up to speculation. What is clear, though, is that in the series Optimus can still drive around without the trailer. And this is no different for the toy- the top section behind the over-engine cab can be detached, and he still can move about just fine, albeit a little more front heavy than before. And when that top section is removed, then he more closely resembles (back) his predecessor(s) from 1984-onwards. Being a fire engine, the passenger cabin has a pair of non-functional blue strobe lights on top. Above the narrowing light gray front bumper is the passenger compartment, decorated in Prime’s trademarked red & silver, but enhanced with black as well. While the windows in the side-doors are not painted in, the two angular windshields are transparent-blue ABS. Upon closer inspection, a further detail is that there is circuitry molded in on the inside of the windshields, giving them a techy look; while they may be transparent, the inside of the cabin is black, so it’s very difficult to tell if there are other molded details within. All four wheels are the same size and design, but the front ones are narrower from a forward profile. While he no longer has cylindrical fuel tanks visible, the blue back half is rather poorly set up to disguise his legs from robot mode, especially when that top section has been removed.
Other than the wheels allowing him to roll very easily across any flay surface, the Water Cannon from the top section can be freely twisted around 360°, though always at an angle.
Automorph Technology is a special feature which was introduced in the “Transformers: Armada” (2002-03) line, and returned in “Transformers: Cybertron” (2006); though it was not called such until the debut of the toy line based on the first live-action film “Transformers” (2007). What Automorph does is- depending on which toy is involved- use a series of internal levers & gears, triggers, and buttons to move one part of the figure without you having to move it yourself; it automatically transforms for you. Sometimes, an Automorph feature will be electronically-powered, though this is reserved for special larger sets only. For Optimus Prime, there is one Automorph feature:
- After separating his ankles, and flipping the front bumpers/wheels around to become part of his lower legs, there is a small black button on the back of the cab just above his legs that needs to be pressed downwards. When depressed, the blue back half of the vehicle mode will automatically twirl sideways and downwards to become his legs! Then, when they stop turning, you can press the now lower torso/legs forward just a little, and they’ll snap into final position, preventing the mechanism from accidentally engaging when not intended.
This spinning transformation feature is a direct reference to the style of animation in the series which all of the Transformers utilize, which is a whirl of motion while transforming which is untraceable by the eye.
. . .
While the leg Auto-Conversion is a very cool effect, it’s kinda tricky to put back. But then, everything else involved in transforming him falls into place easily enough. Although, I will say flipping the shoulders forward the first time threw me off because there are pegs that they’re fitted to on the back of the cab that they don’t tell you about, so you have to really tug on them to get ‘em loose. And finally, how Optimus Prime transforms is very similar to his G1 predecessor- arms deploy from the mid- and back of the cab, legs fold out from behind, red cab becomes his chest, engine grille becomes his stomach, the wheels end up on his legs (albeit in a different location), and a panel needs to be opened & closed so that his head can flip up. About the only things that are different is where the front bumper ends up, how his legs deploy, and where/how his hands deploy!
Optimus Prime’s robot mode (back) is the newest incarnation of, and tribute to, the character so beloved since 1984. This one, however, has a very strong posture thanks in large part to the animation style used by Cartoon Network for “Transformers Animated”. While the coloring scheme remains red, blue, and silver, black is added along the outside of his lower arms & waist. From a side profile, his shoulders and neck are aligned in the same position with his ankles, but his chest & hips are- forgive the expression- thrust forward rather arrogantly, giving him a very curvy back. However, he is in no danger of tipping over whatsoever, with those huge feet. His head is very traditional in design, though one thing that a lot of fans complained about was the decision to make his mouth light blue. (I was indifferent to such an issue. To me, this was comparable to painting flames on the movie version of Optimus Prime from the 2007 film- it fit the design style enough that it wasn’t distracting.) I don’t know why, but in addition to the traditional paired pointed antennae for his ears, I always see the forehead for this incarnation of Optimus as very reminiscent of the peaked cap worn by military servicemen in dress uniform. (Perhaps an intentional throwback to his earlier days in the Elite Guard Academy...?) For a change, the headlights of the truck form are preserved on his chest, right below the identically-positioned windshields, and to either side of the truck’s front grille at his stomach. The transparent-blue strobe light array now rests on the top of his back, though you can now see that the red coloring was painted on since it does not appear there in robot mode. His arms are near identical to his cartoon counterpart’s; though incorporating black paneling along the forearms, and black elbows. The front bumper of the alt. mode, rather than remaining preserved as a belt across his waist, has been separated and repositioned behind the back of his legs. Indeed, the front wheels, which traditionally rest at his hips, have also been moved down with the halved bumper to occupy his ankles along with the inward-turned back wheels! The range of motion on this figure is pretty good. About the only thing on him that doesn’t move around are his ankles. And even though they move during transformation, the wrists are locked in place by those panels on the outside; the only way to counter this is to un-snap the panels, and then the fists can rotate in-and-out, but the panels would just hang there instead. Each shoulder also features double joints which fold out and allow him a greater range; they also allow him to fold his arms forward without bumping them into the vehicle mode’s side-view mirrors on his chest. His waist, not unsurprisingly, can turn through the full 360° quite easily. Too easily, I’d even say- his torso is so loose that it turns the first chance it gets. However, because the mechanism is disengaged (if you remembered to do that final snap after the legs have spun down), you won’t strip the gears or break anything else accidentally. Though his head can’t look up or down, it can still spin side-to-side all the way around. The only real problem I have with the poseability is in the hips- like the Voyager-class Autobot Grimlock figure, they can’t bend that full 90° forward, but I’ll say that the range is better than Grimlock’s.
. . .
For special features, Optimus Prime is loaded. The closest one to being seen in the series is his faceplate. This is usually stored on the front of his neck (which helps contribute to his “...Animated”-styled long chin). There is a tiny blue lever on the back of his neck that, when pushed downwards, will slip the faceplate upwards to cover his light-blue mouth; thus giving him a closer resemblance to many of his predecessors! The second is that his eyes are also made of transparent-blue ABS, and when light shines through the back of his head, they glow. (Does it work...? I’d say it is average and not as great as other figures, but- hey, at least it works!)
The other two features are his weapons...
While he does have a single-blade extendable rocket-powered Energon ax in the series (crazy as that sounds), that is represented only with the smaller Deluxe-class Optimus Prime (Cybertron Mode) figure. Here, the Ion Ax (back) is very wide and double sided, and is formed by the majority of the top section from the vehicle mode; though not resembling the one in the series in any way. Since none of the Autobots in the series have dedicated weapons (other than the occasional shuriken or rocket-powered Energon ax), they usually depend on their internally-mounted Space Bridge maintenance tools to get by. Being disguised as a fire engine- which are usually designed for many different types of rescue operation- Optimus Prime comes across in the series as a living multi-tool with all kinds of features. Unfortunately, cool as all this sounds, the Voyager-class toy is not as well equipped as Batman himself is. And so, we must settle for a simple Water Cannon. While mounted internally on the back of his fists in the series, this one is big enough that he can grip it like a blaster. Now, when I say that it is a Water Cannon, I mean that it can hold actual water inside of it! There is the smallest of black rubber stops) under the blaster that can be popped-off (it remains attached via a soft cord), and the small reserve can be filled with tap water. To squirt the water, press in on the front of the nozzle. (Now, I don’t plan to fill mine with any water, so I can’t give you range or how many shots you’ll get. But I’m guessing there might be enough for about ten good squirts out to about a foot-or-two.) The instructions also specify that when opened up, the Ion Ax can be placed on Optimus Prime’s back, to act as a jet thruster pack. The Water Cannon can also remain attached in this form as well. (While he cleverly uses his Energon axe in the series for very short boosts, he is nowhere-near capable of flight in such fashion!)
What the Instructions *Don’t* Tell You
The Voyager-class Optimus Prime set, fortunately, has only two marks in this frustrating category:
- The faceplate has a small blue point on his chin which slips through a hole in the red plastic when it’s moving up and down. Unfortunately, this hole disappears when you twist the neck to either side, preventing the faceplate from going either direction. So the lesson here is that Optimus Prime must always be looking straight ahead when you move the faceplate around.
- While this is rather an omission rather than something that was completely unexpected, this is still something important that was overlooked. What they fail to elaborate on, unfortunately, is how to reverse the process of transforming the legs back once they’ve been spun down. Through guesswork on my part, I’ve determined that the waist needs to be pointing to the right before you un-snap it to reengage the mechanism. Then, holding the red cab section, rotate the legs/lower torso clockwise, slowly & gently helping them pitch (i.e. rotating the cab back) at the same time. The mechanism is spring-loaded, and so while it will easily spring downwards, it cannot do the reverse; you have to help it get back. And then, once the legs are near-horizontal again, you need to depress that black lever again so that it can be re-locked.
I’ve heard of people simply forcing the waist section up without spinning it, and I greatly fear that this will rapidly wear down the mechanism inside, and so I strongly recommend that you not do that! So long as you take your time and remember to start the process with the legs & waist facing the right direction, you should do just fine. ...but the instructions don’t tell you any of this.
Many people and longtime Trans-fans were once more greatly disturbed by the newest incarnation of those famous shape-shifting alien robots in disguise; for example, turning the famous Optimus Prime into a measly wannabe with no ambitions and trust issues, or the overall design style of merging & graceful lines/curves matching that of other recent cartoons such as Disney’s hugely-popular “Kim Possible” (2002-2007). And yet after a rocky start in trying to win back the minds of the fans, the show has become a hit on its own as much as it is a tribute to the original G1 series from 1984. Plus, “Transformers: Animated” is an original American series like “Beast Wars: Transformers” (1996-99) and “Beast Machines: Transformers” (1999-2001) before it, rather than being a dubbed anime production from Japan. The same can be said of the toys thus far in their initial releases. But as word has spread across the Internet, the toys have come to shine on their own- not just for their functionality, but for their absolute and striking similarities to their on-screen counterparts, which has never been as fully successful before- where proportions were usually off, colors were wrong, and functions were off or not mentioned. In other words, after 23 years, we are finally getting in our hands what we see on the screen in a way never seen before in Transformers history. This is another figure that I was looking forward to with great anticipation from the very moment that I saw it online in late 2007. And it has not disappointed in any way. Perhaps some of the tabs and the holes that they fit into are a little finicky when you transform him, but that’s no big deal. While this is a feature that has appeared in the past, the Water Cannon, I thought, was a nice idea, but I’m sure that other collectors like myself will also never be putting water into it. Though I knew the Ion Ax would not look anything like its on-screen counterpart, I was glad that at least the figure came with a large ax of some kind. Next time, though, I expect the one seen in the show to be in the same box. And attaching the two weapons to his back was also a cute little gimmick, and it didn’t sacrifice any other part of the toy to accomplish, which was really nice for a change! The moving faceplate, also, was nice and a good alternative to using a separating accessory piece for those who couldn’t stand his blue lips. The Auto-Conversion legs were, of course, really awesome, and a great way of paying respect to the ninja-quick insta-transform that these characters go through. But, of course, with the exception of the large ankle kibble, this is another fine, fine example of Takara’s hard work of bringing us a toy that so closely matches its on-screen counterpart, and yet plays homage to the past great leaders of the Autobots. Things to change? Yeah- give him an Autobot symbol somewhere, mnn? In the series he has a red symbol on each upper arm, but the only indication of such is an indented panel on the front of his right upper arm! I am also a little annoyed with how easily his waist turns after I lock it in place when transforming him. Oh, and in the future, I’d like to see a fully-functional fire engine trailer section to go with this figure. As is, though, I am very satisfied and I highly recommend getting the Voyager-class Autobot Optimus Prime (Earth Mode) figure.
Oh... and please forgive me my little, um... AT-ST moment here; I couldn't resist.
|Posted 3 October, 2008 - 12:46 by EVA_Unit_4A|